Mount Elliott Tool & Die (Outer Drive Stamping / Manufacturing Technology Center)

Mount Elliot Tool & Die

Built in 1938 by Briggs, the Detroit plant was purchased by Chrysler in 1956. Because of its location on Outer Drive (near 8 Mile Road), it was named Outer Drive Stamping; in 1983, stamping operations were moved out and tool and die work was moved from Vernor Tool & Die (which was closed). The plant, now including pilot plant operations and engineering for new stamping technologies, was renamed Outer Drive Manufacturing Technology Center.

Once the Chrysler Technology Center was built in Auburn Hills, the pilot plant and stamping engineering operations were moved to the CTC, and Outer Drive was renamed “Mt. Elliott Tool and Die.”

toolroomIn 2003, according to UAW Vice President Nate Gooden, the facility was considered to be uncompetitive, and the company was planning to close it; two thirds of all dies used for stamping outer panels were made in nonunion shops outside the company.

Less than three years later, thanks to a turnaround effort that involved far greater employee participation, not only was the plant saved, but employment was increased and tool and all die making was for outer panel stampings were made in-house. In 2006, the plant received Chrysler’s Manufacturing Excellence Award; the workforce grew from 180 in 2003, to 231 UAW employees by June 2006.

According to an article by Sam Stark in Solidarity:

Mt. Elliott tool and die workers and engineers literally circled the globe in search of new ideas to make their facility more competitive; they visited facilities in Asia, Europe and South America. But some of the best ideas were homegrown.

“The idea of cells came from workers right here on the shop floor,” said Roy Hamilton, UAW Local 212 president and a tool process engineer. “This completely changed the way we produced dies.”

In the old way, two die makers would work on a single die from beginning to end. Under the new process, dies move along from cell to cell, from one team to another, with each team responsible for solving problems and signing off when its part of the job is done.

tool and die plant

The use of employee ideas dramatically improved quality and productivity; from using 100 die workers to produce 56 dies per year, Mt. Elliott moved to using 87 die makers to produce 104 dies per year. The delivery time went from five months to three. As a result, the plant has a greater capacity, and laid off workers could return to do work which had been outsourced. As the article noted, “Listening to workers not only saves jobs, it creates jobs.” [Italics added]

outer drive manufacturing tech center

The Mt. Elliott Tool & Die plant is on 3675 East Outer Drive, Detroit; the 30-acre site includes 725,000 square feet of floor space, and produces stamping dies, checking fixtures, and stamping fixtures. As of July 2007, there were 290 employees.

Mt. Elliott Tool & Die sign

Chrysler Mt. Elliott Tool & Die Plant

Mt. Elliott - Outer Drive Stamping Plant

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Also see... Factory photos: 2009 Dodge Ram - 1995 Neon - Chrysler LeBaron Convertible - Newark Assembly Plant

Working at the plant: Dave Tyjeski (2009), Bill Wetherholt (2009), Matt Wetherholt (2009), Views (2002), Teamwork (1998)

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